Sunday, March 23, 2014

Moving On

There has been no sewing in these parts for far too long but it's past time for me to check in lest you all forget about me. :-)

I've been busy looking for and at possibilities for a new home. I think I've found it in the house above. That's a Google maps pic and not me sitting out front. It's not definite yet, and I hope this posting doesn't jinx anything. But if it does, then it wasn't meant to be anyway.

The house is in Tampa proper. It takes me 9 minutes leaving my office at 5 PM to get there. It has an extra bedroom (or two) for a sewing room. The bedrooms are nice and big. The closets are not. Understandably since it's 100 years old. It's quirky and not a cookie-cutter. Which is a big change for me. But it's time for me to leave the suburbs and I love where this house is located.

Even if this isn't the house, I'm still going to be spending the new few weeks tossing, packing, and moving to somewhere, so I'll continue to be very light here.

Does anyone need a dining room set? A treadle? TONS of unused fabric? ;-)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Yet Another Drive By

Life is a bit busy right now and I haven't been sewing (and my wardrobe is getting sad, sad, sad). Plus this week I have a chest cold coming on so all I want to do is sleep. Pffft that work and life gets in the way of naps. ;-) But at least I can still watch the Olympics every night. Is anyone else addicted to them? I think it's a holdover from my little-girl-ness, when watching the Olympics and wanting to be Peggy Fleming or Dorothy Hammil or Kathy Rigby or Olga Korbut was every girl's dream. (Please forgive any misspellings on names ... the Dayquil has taken over!)

But I just wanted to dash in and say all is well. I'm here. And the missing Mr. Mojo will be getting a kick in the keister soon because ... OMG ... I won BeaJay's Plus Size Pattern Pyramid!! Thank you SO MUCH Beverley. I will now be checking the mailbox every day for the next few weeks. OK, maybe not tonight because that would have to be a pattern MIRACLE, but starting next week. I'll let you all know when they land and soon after I'll be hosting the next PSPP here, open worldwide.

Stay tuned ...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Simple Sewing

Yep, I'm still here. It's just that some life activities, chores (and football playoffs!) have zapped the blogging and sewing time/energy.

I started my latest project last weekend. A really simple sew with a "pattern" made by using a crayon to rub off seam lines onto tracing paper laid over a RTW cardi that I've wanted to duplicate forEVER.

This is the finished result, using a 2-yard cut of a lightweight sweater knit purchased from a couple of years ago.

And a little bit wider shot cuz I like sneaking a peak at others' homes too. ;-) But don't get too used to this view because I think Alex and I might be moving soon after my lease is up in May. I want to spend less in rent and he wants to be closer to work, so we're thinking about leaving Valrico after more than 20 years and heading across the bay to Pinellas County. We'll see. I know I'm NOT looking forward to packing again. And I can't believe I've been here almost 2 years already.

Here's the RTW cardi I used for the rub-off pattern.

And the copycat, but with long sleeves. Hey, it's been COLD here. Really.

The front and back pattern pieces I rubbed off. No seam allowances, of course, but I added them as I rotary cut the fabric.

The sleeve pattern was adapted from my TNT Ottobre tee since it's impossible to lay a sewn sleeve flat and rub off a pattern. Well, probably not impossible, but certainly more fiddly time than I was willing to spend. All I did to adapt the sleeve pattern I had was to measure the armhole opening from the pieces above and add to the underarm seam of the TNT sleeve so they matched. Highly scientific.

This is my TNT front bodice laid over the tracing to give you an idea of shape.

All of the outside edges of the cardi are finished with bands. On the RTW cardi, they are knitted in, but in a different stitch (or something ... I don't knit) so they look like separate bands. When sewing, they had to actually be separate bands.

I just measured the widths of the RTW bands and doubled that so I could fold in half for a finished edge, and then added seam allowances to the measurements. Then I measured around the outside pattern edges to figure the lengths needed for each section.I winged it for the sleeve cuffs. ;-) The neckline band is folded around the neck edge to create a shawl collar, and hand-stitched at the CB to hold it in place. This was done on the RTW cardi too.

To construct, you sew the body together like any other knit top, including sleeves and sideseams. Then the bands are pressed in half RS out and added to the raw edges like this: The bottom band (green) first, then the front (blue) band, and lastly the neckline (pink) band. The bottom edge of the front (blue) band has to be finished and turned before sewing on the band, and the same for the front edges of the neckline (pink) band.

And that's it. Really easy "drafting" and sewing.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

SBCC Mimosa 2 - First Make of 2014

There's not a lot to add to my first go at the Mimosa, except that the ties are certainly more visible for this version on their own. The pattern is a winner, but since it's definitely distinctive, I'm afraid I will need to let it rest a while. At least with this one, it's a neutral that should go with many things in all seasons. The fabric is an ivory rayon "leftover" from the stash, with a slight "ribbed" texture, which you can sort of see in the pic below. I love this fabric, but it's so drapey that it wiggles something awful to sew with and it wrinkles as soon as you look at it. (Which is making me think ... hmmm ... maybe I need a third one after all, in a synthetic blend.) I started this one on Wednesday like I had planned but because I had to sew very slowly and carefully due to the fabric acting like it was cut on the bias all around, I didn't finish it until today. I'm glad I took my time though, because it did turn out to be a lovely blouse.

I cut the raglan shoulder dart with the exact alteration I showed a couple of posts ago and I'm happy to report that it's just right. No more poof ... even though it looks poofy here, but that's because Zillie is wearing a bra over shoulder pads to mimic my square shoulders and that combination creates dents.

I made a self-fabric bias facing for the back neckline, which turned out nicely despite the wiggly fabric. I hemmed the sleeves and bottom with a machine blind hem stitch, which photographs horribly as in the first pic above, but it looks smooth and nearly invisible in real life. I suppose I could've done the hems by hand, but they likely wouldn't have turned out any better.

Here's the sewing table after finishing today. I've got a bit of cleaning up to do and then I need to decide what's up next. I really want to sew a pattern from the stash, but there's another indie that's calling my name and it's really hard to tune it out. I'm trying to convince myself that instead of caving in right away, I'll "reward" myself with it after sewing at least two stashed patterns first.

Wish me luck on that, and have a great week! Right now, it's time for Downton Abbey!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Top Fives

Hard to believe that during all these years blogging, I've never done a recap (it's true!). But because I've been enjoying everyone else's 2013 recaps popping up this week, I decided to spend way too much time gathering photos jump on Gillian's Top 5 bandwagaon too. Thanks Gillian and my sewing blogger friends for giving me the needed kick in the @ss push. If you've got a few hours you want to kill, click the link to Gillian's blog because it's the page where all the recappers have been posting links to their lists. I've already found a few new-to-me blogs. Fun!

So, first up is a composite of I think everything I've made this year. I've had some ups and downs during 2013 which definitely directly affected the mojo, but after seeing it all and counting around 40-ish pieces, I was pleasantly surprised. Of course there were many, MANY more projects in my mind that haven't yet become reality, but that's what 2014 is for, right? (That's probably all of the "Reflection" you're going to get as I tend to not look backward.)

Top 5 Hits - in no particular order

1. Simplicity 2474. This simple top, which takes a mere 28" of fabric, became a true wardrobe workhorse. It pairs with both my purple and black Magic Pencils. Even from Joann's Polly and Esther, it works all year round, by itself on the hottest days and under a cardi on the coldest. I'm definitely going to have to add one or two more of these during 2014.

2. Frankenpattern top, using KS2694 to copy a fav RTW top. This, and the original RTW, are in regular rotation all the time. I have to fight the urge to wear them both to work each week. If I could have a uniform, this top in different prints and a coordinating Magic Pencil would be it. Another one I need to make again.

3. Self-drafted (term used loosely) skirt which was created from the ashes of a wadder dress and a Jalie 2806 top. This outfit had lots of wear during the summer. Bright and comfortable, and cheap!

4. I think this is my favorite make of 2013. It's a 2-piece dress using Butterick 5429 for the top and Simplicity 2185 for the skirt. I love the colors, the slinky fabric, the border print used at the waist hem to break it up, and the swish factor. I get compliments every time I wear this.

5. Last, but not least, my latest project ... the Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Mimosa. I've worn this once and already know it's going into high rotation status. I'm planning to start (and maybe finish?) another one Wednesday. Great "sleeper" pattern!

Top 5 Misses - in no particular order

1. McCall's 6397. Cute, right? Never worn. Not because I don't like it. But because first I needed something to wear under it. The blouse shown isn't comfortable. Now, alas, I've gained a few and the dress is too snug. It's still in my closet waiting for me to drop 10 (15?) and find an underlayer. As is the first summer version, which I wore ALL the time ... those 10-ish pounds ago.

2. Vogue 8825. I tried this on and hated it on me. I dubbed it the tree trunk and thus it has never been worn. I swore I was trashing it that day. But I still want to love it somehow so it's been in a wadder ball in my sewing room for almost a year now. If nothing else, I'm going to rescue the fabric for something. I still love the style/pattern and am hoping it's just a bad fabric pairing. But fearing another weeping willow, I haven't yet tried it again.

3. Right after the tree trunk, came this never worn, never even finished, wadder. Vogue 8805. Debbie, just step away from the shapeless shifts. But then Lara of Thornberry just made another, slightly redesigned and in a woven and now I'm tempted again ... for a summer weekend dress. Someone slap me. I also just realized this dress is still hanging (unfinished) in my laundry room. Come tomorrow, it will be GONE.

4. Butterick 5749. Never worn because it started out short and snug. Now it's longer after adding a hem band but snugger after adding some pounds. It kills me that I "wasted" this fabric. It's still hanging in my closet, waiting. Sigh. Because the dress is made from so may pieces, I can't even rescue the fabric. Bigger sigh.

5. Butterick 5489. UFO, so never worn. I just kind of fell out of love with it before it was done. I may finish it. Or I may be distracted yet again but the next bright and shiny pattern. Who wants to place a bet?

Honorable Mentions - in no particular order

1. Another Butterick 5429/Simplicity 2185 combo. This gets worn a lot. It's comfortable and I like the print. I need a color pop cardi so it can be added to the "winter" rotation.

2. Simplicity 3768. I've had this pattern for YEARS and finally decided to make the shorts and top from it. Both are winners. I LIVE in these shorts on the weekend. And the linen version gets worn often too.

3. I started this Hot Patterns 1138 Metropolitan Verano right before I lost that job and it sat, haunting me. Once I picked myself up and finally finished it, it became a summer wardrobe staple. It's bright, comfortable, cute, and so easy to just slip on with sandals and run out the door. Perfect for Florida.

4. The top from Simplicity 3768 also gets worn a lot. It's a rayon knit so it's comfortable and it's flattering even with the extra tummy I've got right now.

5. The SBCC Tonic tee. While I still love my Ottobre TNT tee and won't be giving it up anytime soon, it was really nice to find this indie company and have succeess both with their patterns and with my email interactions with the owner/designer. I'm sure this tee will be added to the weekend rotation as soon as I do my laundry. One thing I've realized, I'm definitely lacking in new me-made casual items.

Goals - in no particular order

1. Keep blogging. This won't be hard. :-) Sometimes I'm light on the posts, but that's just the normal ebb and flow of life. I really enjoy this medium, sharing, and ... of course, the comments. You all are a GREAT group of people and I enjoy each and every one of you. Thank you sincerely for reading, for giving support and prayer when needed, and for having my back.

2. Speaking of comments ... one of my goals for the blog is to look into making it easier to reply to comments in order and actually do that. I know a lot of questions go unanswered and I do regret it. OK, sometimes the answers are more "work" than I feel like putting into an answer, but usually the questions are things I want to answer and can do so quickly. I want to get better at this.

3. I'd really like to meet each of you, so if you're ever in the Tampa, Florida area and I'm available, let's do it! Renee, Barbara, Laura, Karen, Ronda, Andrea ... I'm looking at YOU.

4.  Get into the sewing room during the week. This is directly related to the fact that I don't have a cable hook-up in there right now, as I hobbled it to the living room instead. It's been like this for a year now and I'm about out of excuses for not calling the cable company to come add an outlet. I really need background noise/dialog when I'm sewing. It helps now that I've re-upped my Amazon Prime subscription and can stream video and radio to my Kindle, but I would still like the big TV to be available so I can catch up on my shows while I sew. I'm just a multi-tasker at heart.

5. Make a dent in the pattern stash. I'm so easily distracted by new patterns but I've got an amazing collection of "old" patterns that really deserve a chance too. I'm sure I'll keep buying, but I'm going to try really hard to make it a priority to hit the stash on a regular basis.

Inspirations - again, in no particular order

Carolyn and Barbara had really good posts about keeping it real in the sewing blogger stratosphere and I'm down with that at heart. I mean all you need to do is look at my blog to believe that. Tripod and mirror shots reign supreme. While I'd actually love to have better, more "artsy" photos (the graphic artist in me cringes regularly at my own photos), the truth is it probably ain't gonna happen. It already takes a lot of time for the crappy pics and (hopefully not so crappy) content. At this point, I don't think I'm willing to put in even more time to step it up.

That said, I love pretty much ALL sewing blogs. The shiny ones, the basic ones, the ones in between. As long as I get a feel for the writer, I'm in. My sidebar blogroll grows weekly, and I look at and enjoy them all. Truly.

I don't intentionally want to leave anyone out but since this is a post of Fives, I'm going to close with 5 of my favorites. Five of the blogs I click on as soon as I see a new post. Know that there are many more than 5, but I'll leave it at 5 for now. 

Oh, scratch that! I just couldn't do it. I could NOT narrow it down to 5. I don't think I could narrow it down to even 25.

So instead, I will say that every blog in my sidebar inspires me in many ways. From patterns and fabric, to giggles and warped senses of humor, family vacations, pickling fresh veggies, pet antics, new notions, vintage machines, Chelsea flea market finds, moose meat in Alaska, posing with strangers in London, fabric collections neatly folded on shelves in New Jersey, bike riding in Baltimore, grandkids, weddings, new sons and daughters, Me Made Mays, sewing dares, sew-alongs, hand-picked zips, Kasha linings, studded dresses, refashions, remodels, meet ups, husband comments, TNTs, What WAS I thinkings, prints, solids, faux leather, new shoes (especially new shoes), nailpolishes, new haircuts, Mood, Minerva, Chihuahuas on treadmills, designer knock-offs, Project Runway recaps, the pointing finger of the Pressanatrix, recipes, tutorials, honest opinions, velvet chef jackets, and EVERYTHING else in between. You all are The Best!

Happy New Year! May the sewing gods and goddesses shine brightly on you in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Modeled Mimosa

After 5 days off, I sure didn't want to get up when the alarm went off this morning but it was a little bit easier throwing off the covers knowing I had a new outfit to wear. Plus, I had to pee. TMI? Hahahaha ... sorry in advance for any young women reading, but the truth is once you're past a certain age, your bladder just doesn't let you sleep in. Isn't getting older grand?

OK, not exactly how I planned to start this post, but once the thought came, it just wouldn't go away.

So here's the OOTD. I really (as in REALLY!) like this top. So much so that I just might be popping out another one come Wednesday. The fit is perfect, with minimal alteration. The neckline is just right, both in shape and depth. The ties are adorable yet not too cutesy for a woman of my age (cough:29:cough). It's an easy sew. And the instant gratification PDF is very reasonably priced at $10.

Here's the lowdown on the minimal alterations, besides the 1-1/2" I added at the hem while cutting. Love that little arm thingie that slides onto my rotary cutter.

1. Moved the bust dart downward. See age comments above. Nothing complicated here. I just drew a box around the dart, cut it out, slid it straight down, and filled in the empty space with tissue.

2. Added 3/8" at the shoulder-neckline point of the raglan sleeve. My bra straps were covered in the muslin, but I just felt I wanted a smidge more. The smidge added was the perfect amount.

3. Fiddled with the raglan dart in the fabric, until I ended up with this new seamline you see in red below. I've had the poof problem with darted raglans before, so I'm definitely chalking this one up to my particular shoulders and not the pattern.

For next time, the poof has been trimmed from the pattern so I should be able to just sew and go.

Parting shot: This pic is for Barbara. A quick blurry and crooked mirror selfie in the messy sewing room after throwing on my black knit dog-walking pants. IOW, the real me. And yes, I love this top so much I left it on to walk the dogs. They were impressed.

SBCC Mimosa

I sewed 4 items during my mini sewcation ... a SBCC Tonic tee, a pretty well sewn (vs. down and dirty since I was also testing construction) muslin for the SBCC Mimosa top, the final Mimosa, and a slightly modified Magic Pencil to wear with the Mimosa. My sewing plans are always grander than reality, but I'm good with 4 items over 5 days, especially considering I didn't spend every waking hour in the sewing room. The mojo is still whispering to me, so maybe I can pick back up mid-week when I'm off from work again for New Year's Day.

Here's the final Mimosa with the Magic Pencil. The Mimosa is from a black/taupe crepe print from deep in the stash, which I thought was synthetic but after pressing the heck out of it without any heat damage, I'm reconsidering and may do a burn test on scraps just to quiet my curiosity. The Magic Pencil is from a putty colored doubleknit purchased from Lucy's Fabrics years ago. I miss that shop. (I added a bottom band instead of a turn-up hem, which is the slight modification.) I also have a short-sleeved jacket from this same fabric so I guess I have an actual suit now too.

I really like this top. It's easy to sew, feminine, flattering, and comfortable to wear. Especially after too many holiday treats. ;-) The pattern is a winner, both for style and drafting. The only alterations I made were to move the bust dart down and to fiddle with the shoulder seam in the raglan sleeve to fit my square shoulders. Even with what I thought was an adequate pattern adjustment from the muslin, I still ended up with a poof at the shoulder and so I just sewed the poof out in the real fabric and will adjust my pattern to match, hopefully tomorrow night while it's still fresh in my mind the pattern is still laying on the floor. Oh, I also added about 1-1/2" to the bottom length and kept it. I wanted this top a little longer in case I want to belt it.

There's not a lot of waist shaping in the pattern, but with a drapey fabric such as this, it still hangs nicely. In fabric with more body, I might want to add back waist darts or curve the sideseams inward. Either of those is easy to do as a final step, so I won't alter the pattern.

What drew me to the Mimosa was the tie coming from the raglan seams. And then I went and chose a fabric that completely obliterated this design feature. If I had been more forward thinking (i.e., before I had sewn, trimmed, and turned), I would've piped the ties. Instead, I used narrow purchased bias tubing from the stash. And now the ties are visible again.

I used purchased black bias binding for the back neckline and sewed on the front facing last and different from the pattern instructions, so that the front raglan seams and bias are caught in the facing and covered. Hard to explain, but a little cleaner finish this way. Although a slightly bulkier finish too, so I'm still undecided on what I'll do next time. And, yes, there will be a next time. I really like this top!

I'll share the minimal alterations on my pattern pieces next time.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Slow Start

I have been sewing, just not as fast and constant as I want. I'm blaming Christmas dinner hangover. Ugh. I feel like I've gained 20 lbs this month. I haven't, but I haven't been very good either. I *know* what my New Year's resolution will be, and I don't even usually make resolutions. But I want to fit into ALL of my clothes again and now that I'm settled into my job, the pity party (read: food medication) is over.

Wednesday night, Alex was whining (not really) that his purchased key lanyard had met its demise. I'm not sure exactly when he started wearing his keys around his neck, but whenever it was (probably at least as long as he's been driving), he's been doing it ever since. Having to put his keys in his pocket Thursday morning threw off his entire workday zen/balance. Overly dramatic much? Hahaha.

So, sewing mom and stash to the rescue of course! Grosgrain ribbon? Check. Key fob hardware? Check. (Yes, really ... and I even have more.) Tag to disguise a mom-sewn item? Check.

My choices for wide-ish grosgrain ribbon in the stash were limited. I needed one I could fold in half (for strength) and which was not entirely too girlie. This brown/aqua stripe fit the bill best. The unpressed ribbon is on the right below. Cutting the length of ribbon, pressing in half, and then stitching the halves together and over/through the hardware took all of about 10 minutes. 15 tops.

A thread change and then sewing on the label cut from some old pair of jeans years ago took another 2-3 minutes.

And that was the extent of my Thursday sewing. But all was right in Alex's world again as he left for work Friday morning. And he even likes this hardware better than the lame clip of the purchased version. So I call that a sewing win, even if it was only 20 minutes.

Yesterday, having had success with the SBCC Tonic tee, I bought and downloaded the SBCC Mimosa top and muslined it. Both for fit and for construction testing.

The 16 PDF pages for this top were also to be butted together when taped, instead of overlapping, but the "missing bits" of the pattern lines were easy enough to fill in where needed. Even though I did pay for this pattern vs. the free Tonic, I still didn't really mind filling in the lines since the butting up/taping is easier than trimming 2 sides and then overlapping sheets. In other words, this method was a lot faster and I think even more accurate in the long run. For the Mimosa, the separate pages/tiles of the PDF print-out were also numbered so there was no guessing as to what page went where if the printed pages happened to spit out of the printer out of order. Which they did with the Tonic. Ahem. My fault on that.

Before I get into the fit of the muslin, I want to mention a few observations. First, if you look at the coral Mimosa from the SBCC website above, you should notice a back neck facing. It doesn't exist in the final pattern. Instead, there is a pattern piece for bias binding. I think this is better. But don't expect instructions for attaching it. As I mentioned with the Tonic, these are not learn-to-sew patterns. In fact, there's not even a cutting layout given. Which I actually like since I never follow suggested layouts anyway and it saves on printing output too. Grain and fold lines are marked as you'd expect, which is all that's really needed.

The instructions are fine (with one semi-mistake, noted below) but they are in bitmap format instead of a vector PDF. If you don't know the difference, in layman's terms ... a bitmap is like a digital photograph where resolution (file size and pixels) counts, and if resolution is too low, you won't be able to print a clear (unpixelated) rendition. This is the case here. I hope the pattern designer is reading, because I want to suggest that she keep the instructions in the infinitely scaleable vector format and save as PDF, like the Tonic instructions, because the print-out as-is is only so-so. Readable, but blurry. And so easy to make perfect if staying with vectors.

Onto the muslin.

Overall, pretty darn good for a first muslin and the top looks like I expected from the SBCC website. I cut the same sizing as for the Tonic ... which was a straight XL for all of the front and back shoulders/neck/arms, then blending to XL+1/2" for the back bodice starting below the armpits. I did not do an FBA and there is plenty of bust width/length for me. But the bust dart is pointing about 1-1/2" too high for these non-perky girls. That's an easy fix and I've already box-cut around the dart and moved it down on the pattern to be ready for the real fabric today. I also cut the pattern the full length of the biggest size because the hem allowance is only 3/4". I think I might want another 1" and will cut the next one with that additional length to see. I anticipate that most of that will be used as hem allowance, since I prefer a deeper hem.

While my bra straps are technically covered, the neck opening still feels a little wide over my shoulders. I added about 3/8" to the width at each shoulder for the next make, and will show the altered pattern piece when I show the final fabric top. Lastly, as far as fit, the dart in the raglan sleeve poofed on me, because I didn't make a square shoulder alteration for the muslin. I've now done that for the next make (same pattern piece to be shown next time).

The semi-mistake in the pattern that I mentioned above is the mark for where to place the ties. It's just not in the right place to allow for the seam allowance to attach the facing. (The sleeve notches don't match up to the bodice either, but that may be as designed ... IOW for identification only ... since you're never instructed to actually align the marks.) As long as you remember to ignore that mark for the ties and just place them lower with the seam allowance in mind, you'll be fine.

Finally, I also think I may change up the sewing order and attach the front neck facing before I've attached the back bias but after joining the front raglan seams (did you follow that?), because as you can see in the 2 photos above, my joins are not exactly even. :-) I'm still thinking on this and probably won't make up my mind until I'm actually at the sewing machine with the real one.

Which is where I'm headed now ...